Aardvark

Scientific name 
Orycteropus afer
An aardvark at ZSL London Zoo

What they look like

Named 'earth pig' in South Africa's Afrikaans, these unusual looking creatures have powerful spade-like claws and paws that allow them to dig faster than multiple people with shovels. They have long, worm-like, sticky tongues that they use to capture thousands of termites and ants. Their front legs are shorter than their hind giving them a curved appearance. Whilst their large, pink 'rabbit ears', which they can fold for digging, seem at odds with their prominent squishy snout and elongated face.

Animal facts

As nocturnal creatures, aardvarks spend the daytime underground in cool burrows appearing over ground at night to forage for ants and termites that they suck up with their tubular snouts. Their burrows can be large with multiple different tunnels and entrances. When pursued by a predator they can dig at speed - sealing off the a tunnel behind them as they go. they can also run in zigzags confusing their enemies or fight with sharp, threatening claws. At night these creatures may travel miles in search of termite hills.

What they eat

Ants and termites

Habitat

Dry savannah, grasslands and forests

Where they live

Sub-Saharan Africa

Threats

Habitat loss, hunting for meat and use as tribal charms. Hunted by natural predators such as big cats.

Lifespan
23 years
Population
Decreasing in some areas
Order
Tubulidentata
Family
Orycteropodidae